Don't go thinking that I, the intrepid pilgrim, want the pilgrimage to end soon - no, no just the heat, and Central America is always hot, so it's unavoidable. I had thought that walking through during the rainy season would be a bit easier than during the dry season - sound planning - but it's been a rather dry rainy season everywhere I've walked, one everyone is blaming on global warming and we're all somehow serving collective penance together. Next pilgrimage will be deeply in winter where the world is covered in snow, so soft on the feet.
A highlight of my walk since the last blog has been the stopover at the Santuario de Esquipulas, the first night in Guatemala. I stayed with the fellas at the Benedictine Monastery and Seminary and was lulled by the chanting within the stone walls. Further on, I passed through a valley town called Mataquescuintla after a 2,000-meter descent and asked about a brilliant white church on the opposite mountainside. A sanctuary, I was erroneously told, that compelled a visit. There I found 32 nuns, with white habits and lispy northern Spain accents... quick to recognize the significance of the scallop shell on my backpack, they ushered me to a seat at the table, offered cafe-con-leche and bocadillas (little sandwiches) and to put a stamp in my credencial. Their mission of the last 11 years since the house was founded has been perpetual adoration - for 24/7 a minimum of two nuns kneel before the monstrance to adore a consecrated host. Perpetual anything is something to be admired... perpetual. Eleven years may not be much, but someday, centuries from now, its significance will count for a lot, and they plan to continue for all time, eternity, without ever stopping. You've got to start somewhere. Something like the first pilgrimage begins with the first steps, and now I've tallied more than 30,000 kilometers (and at roughly 67 strides per 100 meters, that's...more than 20 million steps in this pilgrim life of mine).